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Opposition Leaders Rejoice After Tech CU Members Reject Charter Change

SEP 20, 2012 8:35pm ET
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SAN JOSE, Calif. – Members of $1.6-billion Technology Credit Union resoundingly defeated a proposed charter change to a mutual savings bank – with 77% of those voting opposed to the conversion – much to the delight of those who wanted Tech CU to remain a credit union.

A number of members responded to the proposed charter change by mounting a fierce opposition campaign that culminated in a “heated” special meeting Sept. 12. Shortly after the results were announced Thursday night, Robert Marinace, a member of Tech CU since 1978 and one of the leaders of the opposition, told Credit Union Journal he spent numerous hours this summer writing letters, calling people and convincing them to vote against the conversion.

Marinace said he was not surprised at the 77% rejection rate, noting Tech CU’s CEO admitted during last week’s meeting she had received twice as many member reactions opposed to the conversion versus in favor.

“I thought it would follow the 70% that Barbara Kamm stated in the meeting, 18 against and eight for,” he said. “But the vote was even higher, showing people were not fooled by the propaganda that was mailed out by the credit union. Instead, they understood the points myself, Carlos Rodriguez, Paul Davis and others made in our letters. Barbara Kamm said she didn’t get her message out about the charter conversion, but she should save herself a lot of anguish by just resigning. The members were the ones who were screwed by all the money that was spent on this. The money has to be restored, and they cannot get away with this. We are exploring how that money that can be put back into the credit union. Let’s see if they offer to reimburse us for all the money we have spent, because they can’t reimburse us for all the hours and all the aggravation.”

Mical Brenzel, chairman of the board of Tech CU, said in a press release by the credit union announcing the vote it is the “responsibility of the board of directors and management is to consider all strategic alternatives that may be in the best interest of Tech CU and our membership as a whole.”

Carlos Rodriguez, who created a website [www.stayacu.org] and a Facebook page [www.facebook.com/stayacu] that have served as rallying points for the opposition over the past two months, told CU Journal “our work is not done” minutes after the vote was announced. “We are going to make sure we have a board of directors that is responsive to the membership,” he declared. “We fully understand a responsible board has to consider multiple strategic alternatives, but as they consider those alternatives they need to get feedback and input from the membership. How can they possibly represent us if they don’t hear us? With 77% of members voting against the charter change, how could they not hear the shouts?”

Asked if the members who opposed the charter conversion now would seek to oust the directors, Rodriguez said they would “love to sit down with” the board. “Nothing is off the table, but we want to offer them the option to sit down and talk with us first [before any removal is considered],” he said. “We are taking the high road. We want to hear straight from them if they are considering this again. No one wants to go to court, which is what we were forced to do. No one wants to spend the type of resources Technology Credit Union did and we as individuals did. There has to be a better way, and it is up to them to prove to us they are willing to listen and adequately represent us.”

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